For many of us, without coffee there simply is no getting up. With a cup of coffee in hand we face the challenges and opportunities of each new morning. Once one has consumed coffee for years, the effect of it might be negligible. But the effect of not having it… well, let’s just say it’s everything but. The power of coffee lies within the routine and the hundreds of bioactive compounds it contains, of which most known are caffeine and antioxidants.
A sip of coffee tells the mind and the body that it’s time for action, whether we enjoy it in the morning of during the day before a mental of physical challenge. There are increasing numbers of performance-enhancing concoctions on the market these days, ranging from pills to gels and powders. Most often the important active ingredient in all is caffeine. However, coffee is still the most natural and the cheapest way to get that little kick.
There have been numerous studies on coffee and its effect on physical training and recovery. Since the Kaffa team is taking on a big sports challenge this summer, we decided to dive into some of these studies. More about this challenge later, but for now, let’s look at coffee and training.
1. Coffee perks you up!
As coffee gets absorbed in the circulation, the caffeine in it will speed up the cellular metabolism and increase heart rate and blood flow. This might directly enhance performance. In a study by the British Journal of Sport Science, researchers found that subjects who had consumed coffee before a performance ran 1500 meters on a treadmill 4.2 seconds faster than those on the control group. However, the study doesn’t state if the control group were non-coffee drinkers in regular life, and we’ve all probably done unwilling anecdotal studies on how the lack of coffee slows us down and makes us cranky. Despite this, we can probably all attest to the fact that coffee, or caffeine, gives us energy. Tried and tested. But are there other ways coffee can be beneficial when training? The answer is yes. 3. Coffee protects us and helps us recover from stress! Coffee contains hundreds of bioactive compounds, and some of the coolest ones of those are antioxidants. As the name suggests “Anti” “Oxygen”, these compounds help our bodies and sells combat something called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress wears down the structure of our cells and occurs as a product of regular metabolic functions in the body, but is enhanced when the metabolism is enhanced, i.e., during physical exercise. Oxidative stress is considered a large culprit when it comes to aging, degenerative diseases and injuries, which is why antioxidants are very important. Furthermore, as the caffeine in coffee increases blood flow iot also increases the rate at which these antioxidants are delivered to be used by our cells. So even though there are many antioxidant rich foods out there, blueberries for example, coffee might have a special role to play when it comes to speedy recovery and avoiding excessive oxidative stress.
3. Coffee helps us push a little harder!
Recovery is indeed very important. Especially if we are pushing through our limits in training, which it turns out, might also be an outcome of coffee consumption. Researchers at the University of Illinois recently made a study that showed that those who drank coffee before performance reported less perceived pain and pushed further in their training. This phenomenon is also explained by caffeine. It temporarily fools and blocks some of the receptors in our brain that are in charge of perceiving pain. Caffeine also releases dopamine and beta-endorphins that help us cope with the sensation of pain. This compound effect may help us run that extra mile or push through that last rep!
The quality of coffee consumed naturally matters. The antioxidant content in the beans begins to go down after a while if the bean is in contact with oxygen, so the fresher the coffee the better. Preferably, freshly ground too, as the increased surface area will deplete antioxidants faster. Not to mention old, stale or sub-standard coffee that might even be moldy or contain toxins. Clean, fresh and freshly ground coffee might just be the best natural option for chemically created pre- and post-workout supplements.
It’s worth noting though that excessive coffee consumption comes with its disadvantages. The effect coffee has on the metabolism might cause awkward and uncomfortable symptoms, especially for those with irritable bowel and gastrointestinal challenges. In large quantities caffeine might also hinder the absorption of calcium, that could cause lower bone density that subjects to injuries. Also, the withdrawal symptoms of coffee can be harsh, so if the performance is long, it is recommended to keep fueling with some coffee on the way.
The Kaffa team is taking on a big sports challenge this summer
Some Kaffa members have taken on a massive challenge to participate in the Saimaa Cycle Tour event on the 9th to the 10th July. Saimaa Cycle Tour cycling route is a whopping 285 kilometers long! Through the route on pit stops there will be Kaffa coffee to fuel all the cyclists.
Based on our little research, we recommend the brave Kaffa members who are participating on the cycle tour to enjoy a cup of black coffee an hour before training, and another one about half an hour after training. Also, during the event itself, we recommend a total of four cups of black coffee - one in the beginning, one in the end, and two at chosen pit stops.
Follow us getting ready for this crazy tour on our social media, and see the event documented by us once we cross that finish line!